Tag Archives: Manchester

The Electric New Sound of Manchester Soul and Hip-Hop


Levelz by Jody Hartley.

“Nostalgia is crap.” Those are the words of legendary Factory Records boss Tony Wilson, a man who was always looking for the next big thing. Manchester, Wilson’s hometown, and one of the world’s greatest music cities, has long been associated with legendary bands like Joy Division and nightclubs like Wilson’s own Hacienda. And while those past glories could result in a temptation to view Manchester through the lens of nostalgia, there’s a whole generation of new talent—spanning hip-hop, soul, grime, drum & bass, tempo-shifting bass music, and more—writing a new chapter in the city’s history. Continue reading

The Many Tumultuous Waves of Gnod


JUST SAY NO TO THE RIGHT-WING CAPITALIST FASCIST INDUSTRIAL DEATH MACHINE is as blunt and brutal an album title as the music contained within it. A seething and convulsing clatter best described as “Fugazi, with the thunder of Swans,” JUST SAY KNOW is a product of the Manchester-based collective Gnod, who are celebrating 10 years of melting minds, shattering ear drums, and deconstructing genres.

Over the last decade, and through more releases than many artists muster in an entire career, the group have hurtled, asteroid-like, through the genres of space-rock, psychedelia, doom, techno, electronica, dark ambient, dub, free jazz, drone, and just about every other one, in an unrelenting quest for experimentation and progression.

If the possibility of repetition rears its head, they simply move on. At one point a few years back, the group sold all of their guitars and bought a huge soundsystem in order to tour a fully electronic operation, no doubt providing a stern kick in the guts to some of the die-hard Hawkind fans who’d jumped on board during the band’s heavy psych-rock period. But any techno heads they gained may now find the group’s current period of ferocious guitar-based hammering to be the work of someone they don’t recognize. In a sense, the one predictable thing about Gnod is their unpredictability.

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Mark Rae’s Laser Focus on the Present and the Future Keeps Him From Dwelling on the Past

Mark Rae

For a man in his 50s, who’s just written his autobiography, Mark Rae is surprisingly unwilling to dwell in the past.

He’s certainly entitled to hark back to past glories: as a DJ, half of the production duo Rae & Christian, and a major force between the Fat City record store and Grand Central label, he made huge waves through UK and international music through the 1990s and into the 2000s. In his new book Northern Sulphuric Soulboy – a short volume released independently through Bandcamp with an accompanying 6-track 10” vinyl record—he looks back to his youth and his professional achievements, sharing hair-raising tales and harsh lessons learned about the realities of the music business.

But unlike many such memoirs, it doesn’t feel like a rounding-off of a career, a settling of scores or a wistful yearning for better times. Rather, its swift tumble through decades of vivid anecdotes, combined with the crisp and funky soundtrack, feels like someone flexing their creative muscles, enjoying the act of expression as much as the trip down memory lane. And when we meet him in a North London cafe, the impression is the same: this is a man with unfinished business, who is as interested in what’s next as he’s ever been. Rae is smartly dressed—ever the soulboy—and possessed of the brisk wit of his native north of England (he was raised in Newcastle and came of musical age in Manchester): altogether, he comes off as focused and on the case. And regardless of how much we ask about the past, his train of thought returns constantly to the present day.

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